World War II Service
Upon completion of my basic airborne training, I
was assigned to the 456th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion
(456 PFA BN), which on 3 Feb 1943 was assigned to the 82nd
Airborne Division. The original Parachute Test Battery had been expanded
and served as the cadre for the 456th. The Test Battery was
commanded by Joseph D. Harris, VMI Class of 1940. Early in 1943 the 456th
was expanded into a full T/0 & E battalion and I was assigned as Battery
Commander of "A" Battery. I was promoted to captain 2 April 1943.
departed the US on 29 April 1943 and arrived in North Africa
(Casablanca) 8 May 1943. After intensive training, the 456th
as artillery support for the 505th Parachute Infantry
Regiment (PIR) jumped in Sicily on the night of 9 July 1943. During this
operation I was wounded and by letter HQ 82 Airborne Division dated 20
Aug 1943 was awarded the Purple Heart.
After completion of the
Sicily campaign the 456th was employed on the Italian
Southern front in December 1943, first in the vicinity of Venafro and
later Cassino, Italy.
In February 1944, the 456th was moved from the
southern front to the Anzio beachhead where it was employed as direct
support artillery of the First Special Service Force (FSSF). Also, in
February 1944 there was a reorganization of the 456th. "C"
and "D" Batteries accompanied the 82nd Airborne Division as
it was moved to England. Headquarters Battery, my "A" Battery, and "B"
Battery remained in Italy (Anzio) in support of FSSF. As a result of
this reorganization Headquarters Battery and "A" and "B" Batteries were
re-designated as the 463rd Parachute Field Artillery
Battalion (PFA BN).
Early in February 1944,
as a result of officer casualties from enemy artillery fire, I was
assigned the position of Battalion S-2. Captain Joseph D. Harris (VMI40)
who was Battalion S-2 died of wounds received from the artillery fire. I
remained in the position of S-2 until late May 1944 when I was assigned
the position of Battalion Executive Officer.
After the capture of Rome, Italy the 463rd
received replacements, formed "C" and "D" batteries and began training
for the next airborne operation. On 7 August 1944 I was promoted to major
and on 15 August 1944, the 463rd as part of the First
Airborne Task Force jumped into Southern France in Operation Dragoon. On
this combat jump the battalion commander was a jump casualty and from 15
August 1944 to 20 October 1944 I served in the position of Battalion
Commander of the 463rd.
On termination of the First Airborne Task Force the
463rd on 9 December 1944 was attached to the 101st
Airborne Division. My unit fought with the 101" Airborne Division
throughout the Ardennes-Alsace campaign including the defense of
Bastogne, and subsequent operations.
I remained with the 463rd
as part of the 101st throughout the remainder of combat
operations in the European Theatre.
In addition to the
Purple Heart, during my service in World War II, I was awarded two
Bronze Star Medals (V and M) and the French Croix de Guerre Avec Etoile
When the 101st was inactivated in the
fall of 1945 the 463rd was also inactivated. At that time I
was transferred to the 82nd Airborne Division and was again
assigned to the 456th PFA Bn. After approximately
thirty-three months service in the European Theater, including two night
combat parachute jumps (Sicily and Southern France) and participation in
seven (7) campaigns I returned to the United States with the 82nd
in early January 1946. The 456th as part of the 82nd
was in the "Victory Parade" in New York City, shortly after arrival back
in the U.S.
Interim Service Between WWII and Korea
applied, I received a regular army commission 5 July 1946. I remained
assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division after its return to
the United States. My assignments included S-3, 456th PFA Bn,
Battalion Commander 376th PFA Bn, S-3 Division Artillery and
Assistant G-3 (Operations) 82nd Airborne Division.
Following my post-war
duty with the 82nd Airborne Division, I attended the Field
Artillery Advance course at Ft. Sill, OK in 1948. Upon graduation in
June 1949 I remained on the faculty in the Combined Arms, and the
Airborne and Special Operations Departments. I was promoted to Lt. Col.
On 7 July 1951.
Service During the Korean Conflict
During my service on the faculty at Ft. Sill I was
ordered to Japan. In January 1952 I was assigned as Battalion Commander
of the 674th Airborne Field Artillery Battalion. The
battalion was part of the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat
Team. I remained in this assignment until June 1953. While with the 187th
there were two periods when the unit was committed to ground combat
operations in Korea. The first commitment was for approximately three
months during the summer of 1952. The unit was first attached to the 2nd
Infantry Division Artillery and then the 7th Infantry
Division Artillery. While with the 7th Division I was awarded the Bronze
Star Medal for meritorious service. I participated in two campaigns in
The second commitment
was during the summer of 1953. Shortly before the peace agreement in
Korea I received orders and reported for duty as a student at The
Command and General Staff College, (CGSC) Ft. Leavenworth, KS.
Post Korea Service
Upon graduation from the
Command and General Staff College on 18 June 1954 I remained on the
faculty as an instructor in the Airborne and Special Operations
Department. During my three years in this assignment my primary
instruction was in airborne operations doctrine. While in this
assignment I authored one article for publication in "The Military
Review". The award winning piece titled "The Helicopter In Early Link-Up
Operations" was published in the January 1956 issue.
In June 1957 I was assigned to the J-2 Division of
Headquarters European Command (EUCOM). For approximately six months my
duties with J-2 concentrated on Middle Eastern affairs. Subsequently, I
was responsible for intelligence matters concerning the Soviet Union and
the eastern satellite countries. I remained in this position in EUCOM
until June 1960. At this time I returned to the US for assignment as
Senior Artillery Instructor, United States Military Academy, West Point,
On 29 December 1961 I was promoted to the rank of
Colonel. While in my position at USMA I received the Commendation Medal
for Meritorious Service. During my service following WWII I received
various Letters of Commendations and/or Appreciation while assigned to
the 82nd Airborne Division; on the faculty of CGSC and in
After 20 years 2 months and 27 days service, on 30 June
1962, I retired from the U.S. Army at West Point, NY.
Non-Service Activity Following Retirement.
After retirement from the Army he immediately
entered the business community. On 1 July 1962 he was employed by the
New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) firm of Anderson and Strudwick. He
remained with the firm until 18 August 1977. During his time with
Anderson and Strudwick he served as Branch Manager of the firm's
Richmond, VA office for approximately six years.
On 18 August 1977 he
changed employment and joined the NYSE firm of Dean Witter as a
Financial Advisor. He remained with this firm until his retirement on 20
Award of the Purple
Award of the Bronze
Star Medal (V)
Award of the Bronze
Star Medal (1st OLC)(M)
Award of the Croix de Guerre Avec Etoile de Vermeil
Award of the Bronze Star Medal (2OLC)(M)
Award of the Army Commendation Medal
LIST OF WW II AND KOREA CAMPAIGNS IN WHICH I
MIDDLE EASTERN THEATER
SICILY (with Arrowhead)
SOUTHERN FRANCE (with
LISTING OF OTHER MEDALS, BADGES AND UNIT CITATIONS
American Defense Service Medal
American Campaign Medal
II Victory Medal
Occupation Medal (Germany-Japan)
European-African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal
(with 7 campaign stars
and 2 arrowheads)
Five Overseas Bars
Korean Service Medal (with 2 campaign stars)
United Nations Service Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Presidential Unit Citation, streamer embroidered BASTOGNE
French Croix de Guerre with Silver Star, Streamer embroidered MUY EN
PROVENCE, for Southern France.
Belgian Croix de Guerre with Palm 1940, Streamer embroidered BASTOGNE,
cited in the Order of the Day of the Belgian Army for action at
Republic of Korea Unit Citation
Senior Parachutist Badge with two bronze stars representing two combat
Interview with Major Stuart SEATON
- What did you think when you first heard about the Japanese attack
on Pearl Harbor? Did you realize immediately the USA was involved in a
I was already in the Army and must have thought that the US would
shortly be involved.
- How did your parents feel about you signing in for Duty?
I had gone in about 3 weeks after graduation from VMI so my mother
was aware of what I was doing. My father was deceased.
- Once the training finished, did the Army tell you right away where
you were going to?
I was already on my second assignment in an artillery replacement
training center at Fort Bragg, NC. My first assignment was as a student
in the Battery Officers Course at Ft Sill, OK.
- Did you cross the Atlantic in a Liberty Ship, if yes, do you recall
the name? How many ships were needed to transport the entire 456th to
We went over on the Matson liner “S.S. Monterey”. We were also on the
same ship as the 505th PIR.
- Do you have any recollections about the split of the 456th in Italy
early 1944? How can I see this?
The split up of the 456th was directed by higher headquarters. HQ, A
and B batteries stayed in Italy (Anzio) and C and D batteries kept the
456th designation and stayed with the 82nd.
- Do you have any recollections about the Operation Anvil-Dragoon in
Southern France in August 1944 and or do you have any recollections
about the time you were in the Alps trying to stop the retreating
Germans fleeing from Italy?
By the time of Operation Dragoon I was in the position of Battalion
Exec. Vic Garret our S-3 and I were promoted to the rank of major a day
or so before the jump into Southern France. For me personally, the most
significant event was that Col Cooper broke his leg on the jump and had
to be evacuated and thus was away for two months. During his absence I
served as Battalion Commander while he was gone. He returned during the
time we were in the Alps. While in the Alps area we remained in position
supporting the 550th Glider Infantry Battalion. During this time we
delivered artillery fire as required and requested by our forward
observers and the 550th. Also we were subjected to enemy artillery or
mortar fire, receiving some casualties.
- If I am not wrong the 463rd PFA arrived in Mourmelon, France, just
a few days before the start of the Battle of the Bulge. Col. Cooper
asked to join the 101st Airborne on their “Rendezvous with Destiny” and
then Division headed first to Werbomont, just a bit later the plans
changed and the 101st went to Bastogne. When did you find out that you
were going into combat again? How was the trip to Bastogne? Any
recollections about that?
Your comments are generally correct. As I understood it the advance
of the German Forces required a change in the destination of the 101st
from Werbomont to Bastogne because of the importance of Bastogne to be
held to retard the advance of the German Forces. It was an important
communication center which for tactical reasons had to be held.
For the move to Bastogne we were in the column behind the 327 GIR, the
unit the 463 was to support. It was apparent that things up front were
not going well because there were vehicles coming back from the
direction in which we were going.
- The 463rd took positions at Hemroulle, did the batteries stay in
their same positions for several days, or did the batteries take
different positions from time to time? Was it already freezing cold the
first days you arrived, of did it become that cold some days later?
Our batteries stayed in the same positions except individual pieces
were moved into anti-tank positions. These positions had been previously
prepared for use in the event of tank attacks. They were of course used
on the 25th (Christmas morning) to encounter the tank and infantry
attack on Hemroulle. As for the weather, it was extremely cold the
entire time we were in that area.
- When one didn’t “hold the line” Ken Hesler told me one could have a
rest in the little houses before the Rollé(y) castle. Was there some
kind of schedule so that every member of the Battalion had a relief and
could spend some time over there? Was this place only used by the 463rd,
or did you share it with members of the 502nd PIR (the ‘chateau’ being
the CP of the 502nd)? Do you have any recollections of that place?
Any schedules regarding rest would have been the responsibility of
each Battery commander and I do not recall the use of Rollé
- Once the battle for Bastogne was over, round mid January 1945, what
did you do? Was that also the time some of the 463rd members got a pass
for Paris? Did you also visit the ‘City of Lights’?
We made a night road march to the Alsace area where we went into
combat positions. I do not recall any Paris leaves until we got back to
- What happened with the 463rd after the battle for Bastogne? Did you
go right away to Alsace (in combat) until you were relieved end of
February (25th). How long did you stay in Mourmelon after being
relieved? Did the Battalion go into combat again in Germany, if yes, all
After moving from Bastogne to the Alsace area the 463 went into
firing positions in the vicinity of Keffendorf, France, firing in
support of the 327th GIR on 26 Jan 1945. On 12 Feb the battalion moved
to the vicinity of Winterhouse, France and from there returned to
Mourmelon. While at Mourmelon the 101st was presented the Distinguished
Unit Citation on 15 March.
The battalion did go into Germany. Leaving Mourmelon on 2 April we moved
to Neuss, Germany and at the end of combat operations we were at Bad
Reichenhall, Germany and had the mission of policing the town.
- When the war ended in Europe early May 1945, the USA was still at
war with Japan. Was there a possibility that the 463rd would have
received a new assignment in the Pacific?
I have no personal knowledge of plans for the 463rd to go to the
Pacific. I remained with the battalion until the 463rd was deactivated
along with the 101st on 30 Nov 1945. From Bad Reichenhall the battalion
moved to Saalfelden, Austria on 8 July and then on 23 July to Joigny,
France where it remained until deactivation. By this time many of the
officers and men had returned to the U.S. and replacement officers and
men had been transferred in.
After deactivation all personnel were transferred to the 82nd and
assigned to the 456th. Returning to the U.S. as part of the 82nd we
participated in the Victory Parade in New York City in early 1946.
- Looking back: what or which scene grabbed you the most?
The action on Christmas Day 1944 at Hemroulle
- If you could do it all over ... what would you change?
Not much. The split-up was dictated by the situation at the time and
was made by higher headquarters. The 82nd needed the 456th and the First
Special Service Force certainly could use artillery support at Anzio and
Southern France. We received quality personnel to reconstruct “C” and
“D” batteries and in my opinion we had the finest and most combat
experienced Parachute Field Artillery Battalion in the European Theater
- Did you meet some members of the 463rd at reunions after the war?
At first we were not having reunions. Col. Cooper changed that and
with the help and planning of Joe Lyons he started the reunions. They
are continuing until this day.
- Did the 463rd website help to trace old friends?
Yes. The website is great. It is informative and helps us locate one
another and to find out what they are doing. It is also helping
relatives of former members to get information on family members of both
the 456 and 463.
- What can we teach our students about WW2?
Not enough emphasis is placed on educating our offspring of WWII. In
the U.S. certain organizations are helping in this regard. For instance
I have been interviewed by the Virginia War Memorial Education
Foundation on the Battle of the Bulge. Others have been interviewed on
other subjects and operations of WWII with the objective of getting
information out the middle school and high school students. It is a good
- What do you think is best to keep the memory alive?
Keep your website operating and encourage activities such as the
educational programs as already mentioned, and here in the U.S. we have
a World War II Veterans Committee.
Thank you for this interview. I’ll keep your recommendations in mind!